Dragging death in South Africa sparks outrage
DAVEYTON, SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa has opened a murder investigation into the death of a Mozambican taxi driver who was filmed being dragged by a police van through the streets, in a case that has sparked widespread outrage.
Video footage taken by a bystander shows 27-year-old Mido Macia tussling with half a dozen police officers before being handcuffed to the back of a police van and dragged to a local police station in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg, on Tuesday.
A large crowd of horrified bystanders looked on, some warning the uniformed officers they were being filmed. "Hey! Hey! Why are you hitting him?" one person in the crowd can be heard shouting in Zulu.
Police brutality ... A picture grabbed on an amateur video and released by the South African Daily Sun newspaper shows people and policemen looking at a Mozambican taxi driver handcuffed to the back of a police van in Daveyton on February 28. Photo: AFP
Kicking and struggling to avoid the tarmac, Macia was taken into custody at Daveyton police station and was found dead less than two hours and 25 minutes later, according to investigators.
A post-mortem examination found the cause of death was head injuries with internal bleeding.
South African President Jacob Zuma condemned the killing as "horrific, disturbing and unacceptable".
"No human being should be treated in that manner," he said in a statement.
The police watchdog and witnesses said two officers initially confronted Macia for parking his Toyota Avanza taxi illegally.
Eyewitnesses said Macia had been trying to get his driver's licence back from the police when an altercation occurred. But witnesses denied police suggestions the victim had tried to disarm one of the officers.
"He was just pushing them, not trying to take the gun," said George Nxumalo, a 57-year-old Daveyton resident.
Around half a dozen officers were at the scene soon after, some clad in stab vests and at least one brandishing a pistol.
The Mozambique government said it was "outraged by what happened".
"It is very sad that a life was lost so stupidly," Foreign Affairs Minister Oldemiro Baloi told reporters.